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Woman embracing a child, Lajia Ruins Museum. EuroPics : CEN.

Sometimes, when I’m shopping on Amazon.com, I’ll place items in my cart and then realize it’s more than I can afford. So, I’ll move some items either to the Wish List (which automatically includes dates when items are added), or I’ll click the “save for later” option. These all live in a standby world, in chronological order, from most to least recent, reflecting so much more than my shopping habits or financial circumstances.

A few days ago, I was looking for an item I knew I’d “saved for later” when something struck me: Here was a distinctly identifiable timeline of my life. I could see who I was, where I’d been, and the culture of both my family and my heart – all right there, in stasis.

This list held so many things I thought we needed: gifts for people who are no longer in my life; items for my children who’re no longer those children; clothing for bodies that have grown or altered. Interests have shifted. Needs have changed. People have left.

Scrolling through these lists was like reading through an old journal written in collage rather than words. Images of products representing various states of emotion, union, mind.

Among the kids’ math games, Doctor Who t-shirts, schoolbooks, art supplies, and cookware, there were self-help books and reference books on healing mental illness through alternative means: diet, vitamins, meditations, self-healing.
My ex-husband was fond of saying his job was to go to work – this was what he could handle -and my job was all else, including barometer for his stormy emotions, and healer of his ills. He’d declined all mainstream medication and therapy options, believing his pain was the fault of circumstances, and other people, insisting instead that changes in his diet/exercise/meditation would make his discomfort more manageable. My task was to help him find effective alternative remedies.

Looking through this list was a stark reminder of the struggle and responsibility I felt for so much more than I could change. This wish list contained my impotent hope for a saner life. I don’t feel bitter. I’m trying to understand how I got here; how we could remain, for so very long, in an untenable life; why I couldn’t let go, until I did.

The cart is not only a record of my past interests and needs. It contains a record of my regret, and of my healing.